As it’s Christmas Eve we thought it appropriate to leave you with Christmas wishes and Andrea Bocelli’s version of Silent Night. It has the same melody as in English and the sense is the same - the hush of Christmas Eve and the birth of baby Jesus - but the words are in Italian, starting with “astro del ciel” or star of the sky. Buon natale from us here at BlogDolceVita.
For Christmas in Italy, the Italians have gone all partiotic, with Italian sparkling wine, or spumante, beating French champagne in sales over this festive season. Figures from the Assoenologi association indicate that production numbers of Italian spumante, which already overtook champagne last year, will remain higher than champagne. The latter should still recover somewhat this year after a drop in sales of 27 percent when the recession hit hard last year.
In Italy we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to Italian wine for the festive season. 380 million bottles of spumante have been produced this year, compared to the 370 million from Champagne. Italy can also expect some good exports from this figure, as the country itself consumes less sparkling wine than Spain, France and Germany. For our tips, the cradle of Italian sparkling wine is in the Franciacorta valley of Lombardy, while some fine examples from Trentino-Alto Adige can also be found. Cracking one open with some panettone is guaranteed for a good Christmas celebration.
Source | ANSA
Photo | Flickr
Christmas in Italy is not normally a time when Italians make long lists of all the people they need to write Christmas cards to, spending a small fortune in stamps and stationery. In fact, probably because families still often live close together in small knit communities, the Christmas card tradition is virtually unknown here. But if it happens that you need to wish someone a Merry Christmas in Italian, there are a few ways you can do that.
The classic “auguri” (wishes) works well for almost every occasion - from birthdays to weddings and the birth of a child. It’s great for Christmas too, but if you’re a die-hard Anglo who wants to write something more significat on your Italian Christmas card, you might need something a bit more elaborate. The team at Italymag has put together a list of ways you can do this, including the traditional “buon natale e felice anno nuovo”. They’ve also included a few other Italian language tips you’ll need to know if you live in Italy - like the fact that Santo Stefano is Boxing Day. Pop on over to see their suggestions.
Photo | Flickr
We’ve already talked of Italy’s famous nativity scenes, especially from Naples and the via S.Gregorio Armeno. The “presepe” (nativity scenes) workshops along this street are renowned for making famous figures as part of the scene, with previous appearances from Barak Obama and family, and Michael Jackson. This year, infamous Wikileaks personality Julian Assange has made an appearance, with the first and only copy of his statuette costing 130 euros.
Further to this year, Naples is once again in the middle of a rubbish crisis, and so many Italian nativity scenes from the city this year represent the holy family wearing gas marks. Whatever you think of this treatment of nativity scenes, it’s a must for an Italian Christmas to know what’s happening in the Naples nativity scene market.
Christmas shopping in Rome will provide you with one of those opportunities to troop the streets of the city, really getting to know Rome’s shopping districts as you buy for Christmas. The problem is that shopping in a big city can be very tiring, especially if you want to look good while doing it. So in the interests of helping you out, here are some tips for shopping in Rome that will help you get around.
The high period of shopping goes from December 8 to 24 (until 9pm) and then for the after-Christmas sales from January 2 to 30, and the Rome city council is putting on extra transport links and shuttles. Three shopping buses will be available in Rome, for free, to get shoppers around the city. “Shopping 1″ takes in the historic city centre from the end of the line in the centre to Porta Pinciana. The “Shopping 2″ bus goes from Tor di Quinto to Largo Augusto Imperatore, and “Shopping 3″ takes in the via Pieve di Cadore to piazzale delle Canestre/piazzale Flaminio.
Extra buses and trains are planned for the other Rome transport routes and for the Termini and Giardinetti train stations. If you’re planning on driving in Rome for your shopping (which we would advise against), there are additional no entry and no parking zones in the city centre at peak times of the afternoon and evening, and on weekends, so you’d best check before you negotiate traffic only to find you can’t park anywhere.
There are some free parking deals to take advantage of at the Villa Borghese parking station and the Piazzale Partigiani parking station costs just one euro for three hours, with transport deals into the centre of town available. Additional pedestrian zones have been established so that you can enjoy your Christmas shopping while strolling the streets of Rome.
Source | 06Blog.it
Today we’re going to look at this traditional Italian Christmas recipe from Bologna called the certosino. It’s a kind of cake or sweetbread which is also called panspeziale or ’spiced bread’. It’s made from a series of ingredients including dried fruit, almonds, dark chocolate and pine nuts and goes back to the Medieval period when it was made by apothecaries, before the recipe was taken on by the Carthusian monks.
The Certosino di Bologna is one of those hearty Italian desserts which will wash down nicely with a strong dessert wine or port. It’s much closer to a traditional Christmas cake or fruit cake for us than other desserts we’ve seen so far and it’s perfect for a snowy winter evening. Ingredients for this version are: 500 grams of white flour, red or white wine (or half and half), 500 grams of honey, 50 grams of walnuts, 50 grams of hazelnuts, 50 grams of almonds, 200 grams of dark chocolate, 100 grams of dried figs, one heaped teaspoon of sugar, 100 gr of sultanas, 100 gr of mixed dried fruit, 20 gr of yeast, a pinch of salt, and a dusting of cinnamon and nutmeg.
From these ingredients you should be able to make about four “loaves”. Don’t try and make less and bigger loaves because otherwise the cooking time isn’t right and you risk having an uncooked centre. To start, mix the honey, flour and wine together to create a thick mixture. Add all the other ingredients, making sure that the figs are sliced, and add the yeast or rising agent last.
You can easily decorate the loaves with some of the dried fruit, for example walnut and almond halves. Place the loaves on an oven tray covered with oven proof paper and bake at 130°C for 90 minutes. Leave the loaves to cool completely in the oven before taking them out. This is the perfect recipe to create a couple of cakes which you can take with you on your Christmas visits or use for a hamper.
Photo | Flickr
Are you in the mood for a romantic getaway? Do you feel the spirit of Christmas in the air ? If so you can’t afford to miss this unique opportunity to spend Christmas Day at Castello Dal Pozzo, a beautiful castle which a few years ago was converted into a posh 5 star hotel! Located on Lake Maggiore, this gorgeous 18th century mansion is surrounded by an amazing park in which guests can take long walks and immerse in nature. The offer includes dinner on December 24 (59 euros per person) and brunch on Christmas day (65 euros per person). On New Year’s eve the hotel will host a Pirates of Caribbean party. So if you are a fan of the saga, you can’t miss it! Price: 218 euros. For further information click here.
Looking for a nice recipe for an antipasto to your Christmas dinner? Try these fried pumpkin and ricotta treats as a good start to a Christmas party. Ingredients are: half a pumpkin, about 200 grams of ricotta cheese, one tablespoon of bread crumbs, an egg, some salt and pepper and a little flour on the side for dusting. Some olive oil is needed for the frying.
Prepare the pumpkin by chopping it and boiling it, and then either mash it or put it in a food processer. Add the egg, bread crumbs and the ricotta. Mix the ingredients together well and add a little flour to create small fritters by hand.
In a non-stick pan, add the olive oil, heat well and then fry the pumkin fritters for a couple of minutes on each side. Dry off some of the oil on kitchen paper, and add a little salt and pepper. Pumpkin is not considered traditional for Christmas in Italy, but if you’re having guests, this is a great starter to a meal. We’ll leave the wine choice to you.
Photo | Flickr
With this easy Italian recipe we continue our nutella treats for the Christmas season in Italy, if you want to branch out beyond your traditional tiramisù or Italian cakes. These are nutella-filled triangle pastries and if you use ready-made puff pastry, this is so easy to make. So, start with your puff pastry, a jar of nutella, some crushed walnuts, a spoon of honey, sesame seeds and icing sugar to dust.
Lay out the pastry and cut into triangles with a ten centimetre base. In large mug, mix the nutella, honey and crushed walnuts. Place a teaspoon of the mixture onto each triangle and fold it over, carefully closing the edges so that nothing escapes during cooking. Place in a hot oven for about ten minutes, until the triangles are golden, and then leave them to cool slightly. You can brush them with honey, and then dust them with sesame seeds and icing sugar. This is definitely for those wanting their chocolate fix in the cold months!
Foto | Flickr
If you want a treat for your shopping in Rome, you should check out the boutique shop Candle’s Store located in the San Lorenzo district, in via dei Campani. Giving candles as a gift has taken off in many countries, and with Christmas coming up, what better place to get some shopping done as well as exploring Rome?
The shop offers traditional candles as well as more authentic pieces, with candles in the shape of animals, glasses for tealights and bowls for other scented decorations. The shop belongs to the Moraes family who have dedicated their family business to the shop.
The story goes that one day Andrea said to his brother Antonio: “Do you remember that when we were children I used to call you ‘Vela’ [the Portuguese word for candle]? Well, I believe that everyone has a divine purpose in life, or at least I like to believe it…. How about we make candles from now on?” And since then, they haven’t looked back.